The rate of birth defects in Kettleman City declined in 2010 and 2011 after rising to alarming levels in 2008, according to a report issued June 19.
The new report is an update to a 2010 report on birth defects in Kettleman City by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
In 2010 and 2011, Kettleman City had 1.79 birth defects per 100 births. By comparison, the nearby counties of Kings, Fresno, Madera and Tulare -- all in the Central Valley -- had a combined rate of 0.54 birth defects per 100 births, according to the CDPH.
Still, this was an improvement from 2008-2009, when Kettleman City had a rate of 8.51 versus 1.05 for the five valley counties, the CDPH said.
Some observers blamed the spike in birth defects on its toxic waste landfill, the state's largest, and on arsenic in the city's drinking water, the California Report reported in February 2010.
From 1987-2007, Kettleman's rate ranged from 0 to 2.22, while the five counties' rate ranged from 0.86-1.02.
In a press release, the CDPH summarized its findings:
- · The rates of birth defects in Kettleman City are returning to the lower levels or rates seen before 2008.
- · The types and combinations of birth defects seen in Kettleman City did not differ from those typically found by other birth defects surveillance programs.
- · No patterns among the cases were found, suggesting that there was not a common underlying cause to the birth defects in Kettleman City.